by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) - The Indonesian Baptist Church of Tlogosari has resorted to legal action in fighting local opposition to the construction of its church house. Referring to pressure being placed on the government to block his church’s legitimate building work, Pastor Wahyudi told Beritasatu.com: “We will continue to fight for this, because if left unchecked it will set a bad precedent for freedom of religion and worship in Semarang.”
The church has been subject to local opposition since it began development work in the late 1990s. Nevertheless, and even though this was not required for the issuance of a building permit, the church received signatures of support from local residents.
The church had received a building permit in accordance with rules for houses of worship in Indonesia, but this has been repeatedly rejected as oppositional locals have questioned its validity. The church has been unable to carry on building work for the last six months.
During the course of mediation with the local mayor in August 2019, the government asked the church to produce 60 signatures in support. Although the church collected 84 signatures, local groups continued to press for construction to cease.
The church has now decided to take legal action to resolve the matter. The church’s attorney, Director of LBH Semarang, Zainal Arifin, told Beritasatu.com: “We are ready to take legal channels to fight against the people’s refusal. The reasons for the rejection are changing, starting from falsified signatures, expired [building permits], until finally the residents’ refusal does not touch the issue of principle permits.”